Land of the Lost is the story of the Marshall family, who while on a river rafting trip, fall through a mist-covered waterfall and end up in an alternate universe. Rick Marshall and his children Will and Holly become trapped in a land that time forgot, a place inhabited by dinosaurs, ape like creatures called Pakuni, and the menacing lizard creatures known as Sleestak.
Premiering in the fall of 1974, the Saturday Morning TV show was an instant hit for creators Sid and Marty Krofft, already famous for H.R. Pufnstuff and a slew of other kid oriented programming they produced. The series would go on for three seasons, but would live on in reruns, video and eventually a full DVD boxed set of the entire series, complete with interviews, trivia and multiple commentaries from writers, cast and crew.
The series focuses on the Marshall family's struggle to find their way back home, and their encounters with various dinosaurs, Paku, Sleestak and an impressive array of characters who ultimately also found themselves stranded in the Land of the Lost.
The story editor for the first season was noted science fiction writer David Gerrold, who brought many of his compatriots into the fold as writers for the show. Such esteemed sci fi authors as Larry Niven, Ben Bova, Theodore Sturgeon and Norman Spinrad wrote episodes for Land of the Lost. Since Gerrold had penned the infamous Star Trek script "The Trouble with Tribbles," there is little wonder that Star Trek alumni such as Dorothy "D.C." Fontana and actor Walter Koenig also contributed scripts to the show.
Actors on the show include Spencer Milligan as Rick Marshall, Wesley Eure as Will Marshall, Kathy Coleman as Holly Marshall, Philip Paley as Cha-Ka and Walker Edmiston as Enik the Altrusian.
The Sleestak were all portrayed by college basketball players, the most famous of which was Bill Laimbeer who would go on to gain fame with the Detroit Pistons of the NBA.
Sharon Baird played Sa the Paku, and also appeared on the original Mickey Mouse club as, you guessed it, Sharon!
The Land of the Lost exemplified the family unit, with messages about working together and taking precautions woven into many of the episodes.
After the family takes refuge in "High Bluff," a cave safely positioned high off the forest floor, they begin to gather water, food and other materials from which to make their stay as comfortable as possible.
They quickly learn that the aggressive Sleestak, along with the many dinosaurs that roam the land, will end up being their main antagonists through the run of the series.
With such plot devices as Pylons, Skylons, time doorways, crystal matrix tables, the Lost City and the Sleestak catacombs, adventure was not lacking on the snow.
We were also introduced to a slightly smaller and golden Sleestak named Enik who spoke English and although preoccupied with finding his own way home, would assist the Marshalls from time to time if they caught him in a good mood.
As season one turned into season two, there were some significant changes happening. Scutter McKay replaced Joe Giamalva as Ta, the leader of the Pakus. David Gerrold gave way to Dick Morgan as story editor, and Sid and Marty Krofft took over as producers.
The kids, including Chaka, grew. The Marshalls had new clothes, new tools and more gear. That year in the Land of the Lost really paid off for learning new survival skills to be sure!
There were also episodes where Rick Marshall was suspiciously absent, leaving the entire episode to the kids and Chaka. This has been explained away in previous interviews as Spencer Milligan taking on roles outside of the show.
The episodes got a little more intense in season two, some quite serious topics, especially for a Saturday morning kids show. But as Sid and Marry Krofft have often stated, they wanted the show to be one that parents could watch with their kids, and still be entertained.
Season three really shook things up in the Land of the Lost. Rick Marshal fell through a time doorway and exited the program, to promptly be replaced by his brother Jack, played by veteran actor Ron Harper. Uncle Jack was out searching for his brother, niece and nephew when he ended up going over the same waterfall that had stranded the Marshall family in the first place.
The family left High Bluff and made their home in the Temple on the outskirts of the Lost City.
The kids really grew up and had entirely different clothes, Wesley played guitar and sang on some episodes and Chaka became the lone Paku on the show, complete with an amazing new total grasp of the English language.
Season three also featured many guest stars, people who likewise fell into the Land of the Lost for a myriad of reasons.
The show ended without warning after the third season so a finale was never made. It's a shame too, because all those Saturday mornings spent pulling for the Marshall family to get home would have been aptly rewarded with big "and they live happily ever after" episode. But it just wasn't to be.